A book shares an Airman’s journey while its profits provide educational scholarships through AFAS.
Barbara Evans Kinnear’s father, Colonel Richard Ernest Evans, served in the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) and US Army Air Forces (USAAF) as a bomber pilot during World War II from 1939 to 1946. After the war, he transitioned to inactive reserve status. Col Evans was recalled in 1951 and served in the Air Force Strategic Air Command until he retired in 1970.
In his later life, Col Evans began writing a book with the encouragement and collaboration of his family. When he passed away in 2006, Barbara vowed to finish the book so that others might learn about this important period of history. The book, “Richard Eager” – A Pilot’s Story from Tennessee Eagle Scout to General Montgomery’s “Flying Fortress”, was published in July 2021.
Filled with humor and humility, Evans’ recollections of cadet training, combat missions and experiences with the “top brass” provide a first-hand account of a World War II pilot in both the Mediterranean and Pacific Theaters of Operations. Woven throughout the chapters, Evans interrupts his narrative of war to recall pivotal childhood moments with friends and family and as a Boy Scout in the Smoky Mountains. Nicknamed for his over-eagerness as a cadet, “Richard Eager” shares his stories with great optimism for the future and poignant reflections on growing up.
Looking to the future, Col Evans recalls in his last chapter how eager he was to get home to his new bride and baby daughter as the war ended. The colonel also reflected on how so many of his childhood friends, fellow Boy Scouts, and crew members didn’t make it home. Barbara explains that this book, “Richard Eager,” is not only about Col Evans personal adventures, but it’s also “a tribute to all those who didn’t live to tell their own stories.”
Barbara is proud that “Richard Eager” honors her father’s memory. And to ensure his lasting legacy, all of the book’s profits will support scholarships and grants through the Air Force Aid Society (AFAS) to help future generations of Airmen and Guardians continue their education.
The value of education was ingrained in Barbara’s family. Her grandfather, a principal and educator in Knoxville, TN, raised four sons who all fought in and survived WWII. Barbara credits their education in the classroom, as USAAC cadets, and as Airmen for their lifetimes of success.
Barbara’s family selected the Society as the beneficiary of the book’s profits for two reasons. The first was for her father’s connection to all members of the USAAC and their dedicated families. He trusted and respected his crews, the ground crews and the range of staff whom he had the pleasure of working alongside each day. Having grown up on Air Force bases, Barbara saw firsthand the sacrifices and contributions that military families made “with little or no recognition” beyond the Air Force community, she recalls. Barbara believes that “the ability to attain a fine education with the help of scholarship support is a just reward” for Airmen and Guardian families. She is glad AFAS is helping to raise awareness of the challenges faced by Air Force families and is working directly with those families to find solutions.
Her brother-in-law is the second reason the family chose AFAS. Colonel Frank “Mick” J. McKeown, DMD, provided invaluable support and guidance throughout the development of the book. Col McKeown served on the Board of Trustees for the Society, and selecting AFAS as the recipient of the profits is a “token of my family’s gratitude to Mick and to all those veterans who continue to serve,” Barbara explains.
The mission of AFAS, “Airmen helping Airmen and Guardians,” speaks to Barbara, and she’s proud to be a part of this mission.
“I can’t imagine a better way to honor this message than to ensure that all profits from this book go to a charity that supports the brave men and women of our Air Force,” Barbara states.
Incorporated in 1942, the Air Force Aid Society continues to meet the unique needs of Airmen and Guardians. AFAS works to support and enhance the USAF and USSF missions by providing emergency financial assistance, educational support, and community programs to Air Force and Space Force families. In 2020, AFAS provided over $12.5 million in assistance to more than 26,000 Air Force and Space Force families. Visit www.afas.org to learn more, apply for assistance, or to donate.